(Re)discover Reese Witherspoon in five films

(Re)discovering Reese Witherspoon in five films


The films in which she stars have grossed some US$1.2 billion at the box office and, in 2021, the financial publication “Forbes” placed her at the top of the list of the richest actresses with holdings totaling $400 million. This success is attributable to the atypical and now iconic characters that the 46-year-old actress has rigorously embodied over the decades. Back… 

“Pleasantville” (1998)

Whatever the commercial success was not at the rendezvous (US$49.8 million in box office revenue for a production budget of US$60 million), critics praise the performance of the young Reese Witherspoon in this feature film nominated in three categories at the Oscars. The 22-year-old actress at the time skilfully played on her physique as a “good young woman”, even a little psycho-rigid to start building her career.

“Election” (1999 )

So it's no surprise that director Alexander Payne chose her to star opposite Matthew Broderick in this high school satire. Reese Witherspoon plays a student ready to do anything to get elected as president of the student government. Nominated for the Oscars for its screenplay, the film is struggling to achieve profitability at the box office of cinemas… like its predecessor. But that does not prevent the young woman from believing in her chances of success. So she wanders for a while, especially on the side of “American Psycho” with Christian Bale, while being aware that dramatic roles are not yet within her reach.

“Blonde and legal” ( 2001)

Director Robert Luketic arrives at the right time with the role of Elle Woods, “They thought I was a shrew”, Witherspoon would say a few years later about the image that studio bosses had of her after her role in “Election”. If all the actresses, including Charlize Theron, Gwyneth Paltrow and even Milla Jovovich, want the role, it's Reese Witherspoon who gets it. “I knew from page five of the script that I wanted Reese to play Elle,” Luketic said at the time. The actress immerses herself in the character, goes to interview students, frequents their cafes in Beverly Hills … “I wanted to explore the difference between the appearance of someone and the way in which this person is perceived”, underlines t she at the time of promoting the comedy. 'Blonde and Legal' became an instant hit grossing US$141.8 million on a budget of US$18 million.

'Walk the Line' (2005)

Determined not to let herself be locked into comic roles, she manages to land that of June Carter, wife of Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) in “Walk the Line”. The one who defines herself as a “perfectionist” hires coaches and a whole army of teachers in order to master the musical part of her performance. She works, rehearses tirelessly, learns… and wins the Oscar for Best Actress. “I am in a privileged position. I've been able to make it this far in this industry as a woman and I'm lucky to be offered challenging roles, written by great writers, directed by great directors and with great co-stars. But these roles are so rare,” she pointed out at the time.

“Wild” (2014)

Not easy for Reese Witherspoon to return to success after his Oscar. She took part in the political thriller “Secret Detention” (2007) with Jake Gyllenhaal, her husband at the time. She tries her luck in the drama “Water for Elephants” (2011) with Robert Pattinson, the “hot” actor of the moment. And even risks a foray into romantic action comedy with “C’est la guerre” (2012). A seasoned producer since “Blonde and legal 2” in 2003, she came across the novel “Big Little Lies” (“Small secrets, big lies”), teamed up with Nicole Kidman and reserved the adaptation rights. Having particularly appreciated what Jean-Marc Vallée did for Matthew McConnaughey's career with “Dallas Buyers Club”, she chose him to direct the HBO series… which was a hit. It is therefore quite natural that she continues her experience with the local filmmaker and entrusts him with the cameras of “Wild”, a biographical film on Cheryl Strayed, an American who has completed a journey on foot of nearly 2000 km.